Kuala Lumpur Major group stage preview: Group A and Group B
The Kuala Lumpur Major is the first of the 2018/19 Dota 2 season, and the excitement is reaching pretty frantic levels. All the usual joy at having top-level Dota is circulating, as well as some extra ‘free’ hype added on top like a layer of bacon bits on your cheesy chips, with not one but two more venues being announced for upcoming majors, in China and Sweden.
For KL Major details, including dates, times and rosters, check out our preview here, but for now it’s time to look at the teams going to Kuala Lumpur, and who might return with the title. It’s fair to say the start of the season has been spicier than a jalapeno enema, so let’s dive in and see who might be ones to watch in Malaysia, with added comment from our Director of Esports and Dota 2 superfan Sujoy Roy, who was in Hamburg for that event.
Kuala Lumpur Major Group A
Team Secret - the winners of ESL One Hamburg, Team Secret have started the season off with a bang. Their drafting has thrown a lot of teams a real curveball, and that level of innovation combined with the crazy level of talent on the teams means they have to be considered one of the favourites for the group win, and maybe the title.
paiN Gaming – everyone loves to watch the Brazilian side, with their unpredictable style and insane playmakers, but that isn’t winning them any titles at the moment. Still, paiN have shown they can go deep in tournaments, and Misery looks a fantastic addition, but Secret remain a bogey team for the South Americans.
Ninjas in Pyjamas – PPD joined up with NiP for the start of the new DPC season, and it’s time for him to prove that was the right decision. The likes of Ace, Fata and 33 are all experienced talents, meaning there is a chance this NiP side could be a factor, but they start as third favourites at best.
J.Storm – after the end of the partnership with Vici Gaming, VGJ.Storm is just J.Storm and look weaker for the loss of their VG. The team that so impressed in the early stages of TI8 is gone, to be replaced by a new, less impressive lineup, at least so far. Like NiP, they have something to prove, but probably come in as underdogs in this particular band of four.
Sujoy says - "Team Secret are clear favourites for Group A, having hit the ground running for the start of the 2018/2019 DPC season. PaiN are looking a much stronger team with the addition of Misery to their squad, but will struggle to beat Secret. The remaining two teams have yet to prove themselves on the big stage. NiP look like they should be one to watch with TI-winning captain - PPD, leading the team. J.Storm can boast that they're backed by NBA player, Jeremy Lin, but this new team has precious else to shout about after the partnership with Vici Gaming ended in September."
Kuala Lumpur Major Group B
Evil Geniuses – after yet another visa calamity saw him miss ESL One Hamburg, it looks at though EG’s Pakistani powerhouse SumaiL will make it to Kuala Lumpur and represent his organisation at the first major of the season. Their talent is undeniable, but EG will want to turn that into a big win to kick off the year and have something to prove after playing with a stand-in in Germany, too.
Vici Gaming – after coming so close to the title in Hamburg, it looks like this Vici team is ready to make their mark on the DPC season. The talent of players such Paparazi and Ori is undeniable and the team play they displayed in Germany was impressive in the extreme, only being outdone by Secret’s new drafting insanity. Coming into KL, Vici have to be considered one of the strongest teams and will fear no one in their group.
TNC Predator – after having two teams for a while, TNC were forced to drop the Tigers at the start of this season by a new rule relating to multiple team ownership. That puts a lot of pressure on this five-man lineup, led by former Mineski man ninjaboogie. If they do anything of note in this event it will be a surprise, but writing them off wouldn’t be the smartest move either.
Team Aster – with Boboka and BurNing attached to this project, you know Team Aster has potential, but a disappointing 5th-6th place finish in Hamburg came after a loss to paiN Gaming that will annoy the Chinese team no end. They are playing with a stand-in of sorts after they benched young midlaner DStones in favour of loveyouloveme and it will be interesting to see how they react to such a turbulent start to the year.
Sujoy says “After a disappointing run at ESL One Hamburg where they ultimately lost to long-time rivals Team Secret, EG will be revitalised by the return of their star midlaner, SumaiL. They face a tough group with Vici Gaming and Team Aster representing China. Vici look like their closest rivals here, having performed well as a team recently. TNC Predators are something of a wild card, but they'll struggle to take wins from Group B.”